Q&A: Brad Mallard, Chief Technology Officer for Digital Services at Fujitsu
To deliver better customer experiences and build adaptability, organisations need to enhance decision-making through data, technology and new ways of working.
How have organisations’ priorities changed over the past year?
A year ago, leaders were focused on keeping their businesses afloat and giving people the ability to work from anywhere. Recently, I co-chaired our annual CIO advisory board of 15 different CIOs from across the European region, and the conversations this year revolved around building enterprise adaptability while navigating unpredictability and dealing with increased cyber-threat.
As businesses are now focused on becoming adaptive enterprises, what are the key things they should consider?
For many businesses, creating customer experiences that combine physical and digital channels in a much more seamless way will be a critical part of becoming an adaptive enterprise. These “phygital” experiences will be a major driver of growth in the future. Many businesses are now focusing on rapidly and continuously adapting to be able to deliver this new experience.
Optimisation is also important. Obviously, cost control is high on the agenda for many business leaders today, due to financial pressures and so much uncertainty. However, organisations need to adopt a broader and more strategic approach to optimisation beyond expenditure alone. The pandemic highlighted the importance of removing single points of failure and building greater resilience in business infrastructure, processes and supply chains. We are also seeing greater appetite now for trying to refocus resources across the organisation – whether financial, talent, facilities or infrastructure bandwidth – away from ‘keeping the lights on’ and towards innovation initiatives with the aim of driving growth and prosperity.
All of this together is addressed by an approach we call ‘digitalising the core’, in which we help our clients to transition away from the organisational and technical debt that is usually holding them back.
How can organisations empower their people to drive business growth?
Business line managers and the people at the front line need to work much more closely with technology and digital experts. By doing that, they will be able to understand and shape the solutions and experiences that will propel the organisation forwards. This is a really powerful combination that will enable organisations to operate in a much more aligned way, focused on business goals and driving a much better output.
What can organisations do to facilitate cross-functional collaboration between teams?
Ultimately every business needs to be a technology business today, and that's only going to accelerate and become a more prominent theme over the years to come. So, promoting digital literacy across the organisation and empowering people with data are two critical steps. Adopting quicker and more effective ways of working is an equally important step. A big part of this involves a cultural and mindset shift that would give people the confidence to tap into the value of data. Leaders have a key role to play too, as they should create an environment for people to be able to learn iteratively and at speed.
What is the value in empowering front-line workers with new technologies?
By empowering front-line workers with new tools, skills and data, organisations are essentially democratising decision-making. This ultimately enables every employee to be a leader and empowers them to deliver a better outcome for the customer.
Microsoft 365 and other productivity tools are becoming so powerful, enabling employees to work with technologies such as automation, robots and data-visualisation tools. These tools give people the ability to create their own ‘little helper’ applications that improve their day-to-day operations. This ultimately frees up people’s time and enables them to deliver a better customer experience
Can you provide an example of how organisations have freed up their employees and empowered them to deliver a great customer experience?
In one pre-lockdown, for example, a large multinational retailer was empowering their store managers and their local teams to make decisions on optimising stock and routes to market based upon data. So, instead of having senior leadership decide which is the most successful line and launching that in all stores, employees could decide which was the right product for their store in that location.
Fujitsu also worked with a UK police force to improve the day-to-day operations of police officers on the street. Even for very small crimes or small fines, police officers originally had to go back to the station and fill out lengthy paperwork. To speed up this process, Fujitsu built a mobile application with a simple interface that enabled officers to capture requests from different members of the public on-site. These requests are then sent to modern back-end systems, where they are stored and can be accessed by colleagues for immediate follow-up. As a result, citizens receive a much better experience, as their input can be more effectively captured and addressed. At the same time, police officers are not burdened by admin, and can instead focus on keeping citizens and society safe.
Both examples illustrate that delivering a great customer experience is only possible by giving that rich set of data and tools to the right people at the front line of your business.
Fujitsu: Building adaptability through human-centric
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